30 Sep 2011 07:11:22

Making Britain Better: Grant Shapps sets out his housing policies

By Grant Shapps, Housing Minister.

SHAPPS NEW While operating their revolving door of nine different Housing Ministers in just 13 years, Labour oversaw a sustained decline in home ownership and a fall in housebuilding to their lowest peacetime levels since 1924.

We are helping to reverse these trends and make Britain better through the New Homes Bonus, a multi-billion pound programme that rewards communities when they accept more housebuilding in their area. By matching the revenue from the additional council tax raised for new homes and properties brought back into use - with an additional amount for affordable homes - for the following six years, we are directly incentivising local authorities and local communities to support housing growth.

The New Homes Bonus commenced in April 2011 and addresses the disincentive within the local government finance system for local areas to welcome growth. Previously, additional housing in communities has meant an increased strain on public services and amenities. The Bonus now provides local authorities with the means to mitigate the burden of an expanding population. This channels the economic benefits of growth to the local authorities and communities where that growth takes place. Partly as a result of this, housebuilding starts in England are up 23 per cent over the year, measured against the previous comparative figure under Labour.

Our FirstBuy scheme to help first-time buyers onto the property ladder, the abolition of costly Home Information Packs, and the release of unused Government land for house development are further schemes to boost the housing market. We have also managed to keep interest rates low in this country by tackling Labour’s deficit. In addition, we are simplifying the planning system and reducing regulatory burdens on the housebuilding industry, to make it easier to submit planning applications, while renewing our commitment to protect the natural and historic environment.

26 Sep 2011 06:49:30

Making Britain Better: Richard Benyon MP on how he's taking action to improve the environment

by Richard Benyon

BENYON RICHARD Here are a few of the things I have been up to recently.

I have been leading the drive for a reform of the CFP. I am not complacent about the complexities of reforming such a broken system of managing our fisheries but we are on the same page as the EU Commission in wanting an end to micro management from Brussels and an end to the wasteful and grotesque practice of discarding perfectly edible fish.

I am implementing measures announced in our Natural Environment White Paper. Among many new measures the include encouraging people to get active in new Local Nature Partnerships and schools being freed up from petty rules that prevent children learning in the open air and in the countryside.

I have progressed our plans to see the canals and waterways currently managed by British Waterways transferred to a national Charity. We have announced our transitional Trustees and this Big Society plan looks good to become reality in the Spring/Summer of next year.
We have completed a review of how our National Parks are run. An announcement will be made soon and this fulfils a clear Coalition commitment.

23 Sep 2011 08:05:35

Making Britain Better: Hugh Robertson MP on National Lottery funding helping sport and the London Olympics

by Hugh Robertson

Hugh Robertson As Minister for Sport and the Olympics, my most important contribution to the government is to deliver the best possible London Olympics and to make sure that it delivers a proper legacy. However, if I was asked to name one thing that I have done to deliver a better Britain it is, in concert with Jeremy Hunt, to have returned the National Lottery to its original beneficiaries so that sport, along with the other good causes, now receives 20% of the take. This will be of huge benefit to our elite athletes and community sportsmen, and women, up and down the country. Add to that the fact that we have persuaded all the sport governing bodies to invest 30% of their UK broadcast income in grassroots development and there is a quantifiable benefit to communities up and down this country – delivered by this government.

Hugh Robertson is Minister for Sport and the Olympics

19 Sep 2011 08:13:16

Making Britain Better: John Penrose MP

by John Penrose

Screen shot 2011-07-31 at 19.52.49 I recently announced changes to make gambling regulation fairer for British consumers and operators.  In future, anyone offering gambling to British punters from anywhere in the world will have to be licensed. The old system left British consumers potentially unprotected when they gambled online, and created an unfair advantage for offshore gambling companies too. The new approach will plug these gaps meaning, for example, that we can make sure they’re preventing children from gambling online and that they’re  informing UK regulators about suspicious betting patterns in sports betting. And it should reduce incentives for gambling firms to move jobs offshore, which could help economic growth prospects too.

John Penrose is Minister for Tourism and Heritage.

17 Sep 2011 10:54:32

Making Britain Better: Alan Duncan MP

by Alan Duncan

DUNCAN ALAN As Minister for International Development I recently visited the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) in Bangladesh. This amazing organisation is dedicated to combating and eradicating acid violence in Bangladesh. ASF has been funded by the UK through the Department for International Development (DFID) since 2004.

Acid attacks, in which sulphuric acid is thrown over the victim, cause the skin to melt, sometime exposing the bone and often blinding the victim in one or both eyes. While a relatively uncommon occurrence the UK, acid violence has grown into a potent crime culture in other parts of the world. In Bangladesh, an attack takes place every two days.

14 Sep 2011 07:58:00

Making Britain Better: Peter Luff MP

by Peter Luff

Peter Luff As I work to make sure our armed forces have the kit they need at a price the taxpayer can reasonably be expected to pay, one of my highest priorities is the role of small and medium sized businesses in helping me do that.  I’ve now set up a new forum of SMEs and their representative bodies aimed at doing precisely that and I’m working on a series of announcements for a White Paper later this year that should make a real difference to their ability to engage and do business with the MoD.  We need the innovation and agility that the SMEs can bring to Defence and that means removing the bureaucratic and cultural barriers to make it happen.

Peter Luff is Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology

12 Sep 2011 06:39:59

Damian Green explains what he's doing to 'Make Britain Better'

Introduction by Paul Goodman
Follow Paul on Twitter

Good work often goes unnoticed.  Ministers sometimes do such work; often, I would argue, when they are Conservative Ministers.  And especially when they are junior Ministers: that's to say, Ministers of State and, at a lower level still, Parliamentary Under-Secretaries.

Any mistake they make is likely to be reported.  But the making of correct decisions, the implementation of right policy, the slog of Departmental toil, the announcement of a score of humdrum but helpful measures - all these are likely to be ignored.

It is with these thoughts in mind that ConservativeHome wrote to all such junior Ministers.  Law officers, whips, and - in case there's any doubt - Parliamentary Private Secretaries were not included.  We asked each one to tell us very briefly what they've been doing to make Britain better.

Over the next few weeks, we will print their replies every other day of the working week.  I'm pleased that the work of Tory junior Ministers will get a hearing, and glad that ConservativeHome offers a chance for it to happen.

P.S: If any junior Minister doesn't give an account on these pages of what he's doing to make Britain better, assume that our e-mail to him when astray.  The alternative explanation is one that the Editors refuse to contemplate.  At any rate, here is the first of the series, from Damian Green.

By Damian Green

Damian Green 2010 "As part of a wider consultation on family immigration routes, I have taken the first step to stopping serious criminals using the family rights provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights to evade removal. We will re-balance the interpretation of these “Article 8” rights, which have been used on numerous occasions by the courts to prevent the removal of people who should not be allowed to remain here. The consultation period ends in October, and we will change the Immigration Rules as soon as we can when we have studied the responses."

Damian Green is Minister for Immigration